Driving an 18-wheeler is difficult enough -- try doing it in sub-zero temperatures, when the very road beneath your wheels is falling apart to reveal deadly, ice-cold water. That's exactly the job description for an ice road trucker, a job thrust into the public consciousness by a History Channel show. Despite the danger, ice road truckers can take home significant paychecks for just a few months' work.
Ice road trucking is the act of driving freight trucks over areas in remote regions that freeze over for a short period every year. These areas are virtually inaccessible by road for the rest of the year; the only way automobiles can access them is when the surrounding lakes freeze over into a treacherous roadway. Seasonal roads are occasionally reconstructed every year over the ice as an added transport link. Ice road trucking was the subject of a popular television show called "Ice Road Truckers," which premiered on the History Channel and followed several truckers over the two-month trucking season in Canada, where most of this activity takes place.
Much like Alaskan crab fishermen, ice road truckers work during a short season and can earn lucrative profits for their performances. Ice road truckers typically make "runs" between supply centers and towns or, more commonly, from suppliers to diamond mines in northern Canada and back. TheTruckersPlace.com, an industry website, says that ice road truckers can make more than $2,042 per run, resulting in a payday of $61,281 in just a few months. Some of the ice road truckers featured in the History Channel show have made more, netting hundreds of thousands of dollars a season.
There are a number of considerations that can affect the salary of an ice road trucker. One of them is the trucker's employment situation. Some ice road truckers, like Hugh Rowland, a star of the History Channel show, own their rigs and essentially run their own trucking companies. While Rowland can net bigger paydays managing his own business, he's also on the hook for the equipment damaged or lost during each run, as well as the insurance for employees performing a very dangerous job. A trucker for hire, on the other hand, may have to worry about loss of life and limb, but doesn't have the business concerns of an owner.
Advance Pay and Dangers
The dangers of the ice road trucking business are a primary reason for the high paydays. While lakes and bodies of water along the route are frozen solid, making ice road trucking possible, there's a catch, according to AOL Jobs: The ice only holds trucks that keep moving. When a truck comes to a stop, the strength of the ice diminishes significantly, making pit stops or breakdowns deadly. As a result, Rowland told AOL that he gives his truckers $15,000 in advance pay to compensate for the danger and to support families left at home for months at a time.